Squirrel Traps! (& other things to worry about on the 6th anniversary of our wedding)

Tuesday, July 14th, 2020

To celebrate six years of being wed, we decided to take a walk in the woods. Or perhaps we decided to take a walk in the woods & what do you know, it was our anniversary! Either way, there we were sitting down eating a snack when Martin fell asleep. Mom believes this tendency is located on the Y chromosome.

 

 

 

While he was resting, Iris invented squirrel traps. As you might suspect, squirrel traps are meant to trap squirrels. Anything meant to trap squirrels should somehow employ nuts. It is quite possible that the idea was inspired by a video that Dad sent us by Mark Rober, “Building the Perfect Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder.” Iris’s resources were a bit more limited than Mr. Rober’s. She dug a hole with a large stick, surrounded it by small sticks, placed a leaf on the bottom, and would bait the leaf at the proper time. This particular squirrel trap, just so you are aware, is not meant to physically trap a squirrel. It is meant to mentally trap their focus for a moment, distracting them from whatever they were concentrating on, enticing them into the hole to eat the nut. Then the squirrel would be free to go.

 

 

 

After much longer than you might think it would take to engineer such a trap, the work was done. Either because she figured it wouldn’t take much to distract a squirrel or because she didn’t particularly want to share her snack, Iris chose the smallest nut she could find then woke Martin for the celebratory baiting of the trap.

 

 

 

When we reached the place of the grandfather trees, Iris resumed building. First, she experimented with building tripods. She tried very hard. What she learned is that it is difficult to lean three sticks together and have them stay just so.

 

 

 

Meanwhile, Akiva continued to play toss-the-spike with an iron spike that we found in an old junk pile. He had been playing it the whole way’s down the path since the junk pile. It’s played like this: toss the spike. Walk forward. Pick up the spike. Repeat. Usually, the spike lands sideways, bounces, then spins.

 

 

 

In this photograph, I have managed to capture the moment the spike landed point-down in the ground. Pine needles splash like water drops.

 

 

 

While this is going on, I play with the panorama feature on my camera. I have never used it before. Upon developing the photos, I see that, when taking a horizontal panorama, it would be a good idea to have a long depth of field. My favorite panorama captures Martin once again enjoying the activity of woodland resting.

 

 

 

Having given up on building a tripod, Iris built a common four-sided gnome house with a bark roof. She chose a nice forked stick to set off the front door so that the gnomes would know how to enter properly.

 

 

 

Finally, I took some portraits of my children. Mom says I should just take some nice photos of them now and again. Aside from the days when I take lots and lots of photos at once, I hardly seem to be taking many photos at all lately. But the woods are lovely for portraits. Here are some regular-ol’ photos of my kiddos, so’s you can go on and admire their cuteness. Or at least so I can admire their cuteness. That’s why I take photos, really: not for you: for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We walk upstream from the school

Monday, May 25th, 2020

We walk down through the school woods then turn left, back up the hill, where the stream goes under the culvert.

The children practice crossing and re-crossing a log.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are many people footprints here. There are also raccoon footprints, ‘possom footprints, mouse footprints, and various bird footprints. Akiva finds snails to be the easiest animal to track and spends some time judging a snail race.

 

 

 

 

Upstream, we find many bones of a long-dead horse. Iris takes home some teeth.

Akiva throws rocks in the stream.

Friday, April 24th, 2020

I find it interesting that he throws rocks with his left hand:

he does everything else I can think of with his right hand.

 

  

Hiking Friday with Grandfather Tree

Friday, February 21st, 2020

Above the overlook to the island there are two grandfather trees. You will recognize them. They are two of my favorite trees in the forest. What is the cause that there are two, standing on a high point, with no other trees of comparable size for miles around? What was this place like when they were young? 

 

 

 

 

Above the overlook to the island there are two children. You will recognize them. They are my two favorite children in the forest. What is the cause that they are young and I am old, with no children of comparable size for miles around? What will this place be like when they are old?

 

 

Walking with Friends

Friday, January 24th, 2020

This Friday, we went walking with friends.

We walked home in the dark under a clear night sky with Venus shining brightly above.

 

  

Hunt for the Lost Ornament (Single-Use Disposable River Crossing Over Bridgeless Brook, Part II)

Saturday, December 14th, 2019

Despite the fact that we had nowhere in particular to go, we didn’t manage to leave the house until nearly three in the afternoon. The goal was to find Linda’s missing gift.

 

We walked through the field, down into the woods to the place where Iris first showed me the ornament. It was not there. We walked to the near side of the river where we had crossed. No ornament. Then, because we could not cross the riverβ€” there was more water and less iceβ€” we bushwhacked down the easterly side of the river in search of an alternate crossing.

 

At the mouth of Bridgeless Brook was a mass of stuff: a large culvert lay perpendicular to the shore with up-rooted trees, ice and rocky mud all in a jumble amid the water flowing into the Coaticook River. We had found a new crossing spot at last! I tried it out myself first. I crossed a jumble of organic matter over sub-freezing water, walked along the culvert, grabbed something long & logish, inched out on a large protruding log & tossed the smaller log so that it lay across the remaining ice and water between me and the far shore.

 

“You can do it!” I said, and they came. And they did it. With a helping hand here and there and one final toss of the kids over the last bit of river, we all crossed Bridgeless Brook.

 

Iris & Akiva on the far side of the river crossingβ€”

 

 

 

Where we crossed the riverβ€”

 

 

 

Once on the far side of the river, the hunt for the missing ornament continued. We walked to the far side of yesterday’s river crossing. No ornament. We followed our bushwhack back to the washed out concrete bridge. No ornament. There we met a man named Pierre-Luc. He happens to be part owner of the property. We chatted with him for a bit, then walked through the field, across the street, and followed the path to the school. No ornament.

 

“There’s one final place I really think it might be,” I said as we re-traced our footsteps to the location of last night’s party. And there it was! There it was, hiding shyly in the fading daylight and all soggy in the snow, right near where we had put down our backpacks by the bonfire! Oh, were we happy.

Single-Use Disposable River Crossing Over Bridgeless Brook

Friday, December 13th, 2019

 

If the brook that used to have a bridge over it had a name, I’d call it by its name. At this point, due to the fact that we visit so frequently, I’m compelled to name it myself. I hereby name the little river that used to have a tiny bridge over it Bridgeless Brook.

 

After a brief stop for a snack, where Iris showed me the ornament that Linda had made for her and one for each person in the class, we reached Bridgeless Brook between 3:30 & 4:00 in the afternoon. Recently we’ve been crossing just slightly upstream of where the bridge used to be, because the stream is wide and the gravel is not too far from the surface. However, today it was warm. The brook was deep. I crossed the brook on a rope tied between two trees, but this was beyond the ability of my kids.

 

Up past the regular crossing is an eddy pool. A tree leans out over the eddy pool, growing vertically where once there must have been soil. After crossing the river, I put one foot on the tree’s trunk, wrapped one arm around the trunk, and put my other foot on the ice on the other side, where Iris & Akiva waited.

 

“I’ll take Akiva first,” I said. He walked out onto the thin ice. With one arm, I swung him across to my side of the river. He climbed the bank.

 

“And now Iris,” I said. She walked out onto the thin ice. As I swung her across to my side of the river with one arm, the ice under my foot crashed into the river. I pulled myself over to the kids.

 

“Good thing we’re all on the same side!” I said. “Lets walk upstream to see if there’s a better crossing somewhere.”

 

We walked upstream, up all the way to where the concrete bridge washed out. We walked up to the road, walked up the steep bank covered in phragmites, went over the river as the road crosses, then went back down through the tall stand of phragmites that covers the bank. We walked along the edge of the field, across the road to the trail to the school, then reached the school about 45 minutes before the second-grade Christmas party was to begin. We hadn’t planned on attending, but someone was just starting a bonfire, so we put down our backpacks and stayed a while. After some sack races, tug-o-war games, singing and dancing, we noticed our bellies grumbling & headed home. Upon arrival, Iris unpacked her backpack. The gift from Linda was nowhere to be found!

 

to be continued…

 

Hiking Friday @ the Waterville Trails

Friday, October 11th, 2019

 

This is my Iris. I love her with all my heart.

 

 

 

Iris loves me, too. She also loves trees.

 

 

 

Iris also loves her brother, tho you wouldn’t always know it.

 

 

 

Iris is cautious. Akiva is daring.

Iris has endurance. Akiva is impulsive.

Iris is devoted. And so is Akiva.

 

 

 

Being together enables them to do things that they might never do separately.

 

 

 

Iris writes Akiva’s name in pine needles.

 

 

 

Then she writes her ownβ€”

I

 

 

 

R

 

 

 

I

 

 

 

S

 

 

 

IRIS

 

 

 

We stay in the woods until the sun starts yawning and fluffing its pillow, ready to go to bed.

 

 

 

When we get back homeβ€” which is not too far awayβ€” Martin & his father are working on the siding.

 

 

 

This is the end of Martin’s 2nd week off work, so they can use all the help they can get.

 

 

 

Akiva works as hard as he usually works.

 

 

 

“Hi, Papa!”

 

 

 

…did I ever tell you the story of how we finally settled on this color of yellow?

 

At the Wounded Trees (Hiking Fridays, Val-Estrie games)

Friday, September 13th, 2019

With their chests un-girdled,

with the ropes cut at last,

the trees breathe deep.

Their wounds are laid bare to the light.

 

After school, we walk around the former Val-Estrie propertyβ€”

still known as Val-Estrie due to the failure to acquire any other name.

 

 

 

On the way back from our walk, we stop among the tall cedars that grow just at the beginning of the games trail.

 

 

 

As Iris looks closely at things growing on the ground,

 

 

 

Akiva pulls loose stuck ropes that have been cut from the trees.

 

 

 

Slowly, people have been taking off the ropes that girdle various trees.

 

 

 

I have removed some. Others have removed others.

 

 

 

To soothe the trees’ wounds, my children give them hugs and kisses.

 

 

 

Trees are our companions.

 

 

 

I try for a posed photo amongst the cedars. My models have issues with the sunlight.

 

 

 

“Ow ow ow ow!”

 

 

 

“Perhaps is you face in opposite directions?” I suggest.

 

 

 

I take over 100 photos. All of them have cute children in them, which is a boon to any mediocre landscape photo.

 

 

 

Trees in the sunlight, sunlight in the trees.

 

 

 

I fill a bag full of ropes to take to the trash. There are many left.

 

 

 

 Slowly, slowly. Perhaps one day the ropes will be gone.

 

Photo Spot, Val Estrie Trails

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

Iris once sat here & told me to take a photo of her, just her alone.

I think of it every time I pass this spot in the woods.